Letter: What is your Response?
The recent 2016 Pitkin County Community Survey results confirmed what we all know: We live in an extraordinary place that synergizes culture and nature. People love living here. It’s a fact. Sixty-six percent of the citizens are even happy to pay taxes. What else can we ask for? An on-off switch for powder?
But the survey also conveyed some disturbing news: Domestic violence is a big issue in our community. Here at RESPONSE, the upper valley’s nonprofit dedicated to helping victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, we know this all too well. Lulu Lemon yoga moms, hotel housekeepers, art gallery workers, lift operators, ski instructors, Ajax Tavern brunchers, gala attendees, and Red Mountain residents are all among our clients. They are young and old. They are men and women. They are straight and LGBTQ. Truly, they represent all walks of life.
Police and sheriff’s departments in Pitkin and Eagle counties respond to more than 100 calls each year involving domestic violence and sexual assault. In the past year, RESPONSE has received 143 calls on our crisis line. We have worked with 235 survivors, helped 93 clients with safety planning and protection orders, conducted 92 support groups sessions, and talked to 539 teenagers in Aspen and Basalt Schools about dating violence and sexual assault. Our sensibly trained and tireless volunteers log more than 10,000 combined hours annually.
RESPONSE’s funding comes primarily from government grants (46 percent) and corporations and foundations (30 percent). Special events generate 17 percent; only 7 percent comes from individual contributions. Some of our valley’s wonderful arts organizations spend significantly more than our annual budget on a single gala. Given the seriousness and the pervasiveness of domestic violence and sexual assault, we think our community can and should do better.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship or you simply would like to get more information about domestic violence and sexual assault, call our hotline 970-925-SAFE (7233). Remember: Love should never hurt.
Christine Nolen, Txell Pedragosa, Jackie de Achaval and Claire Driscoll
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